A short note Geneva School and its members

Geneva School

1. A small group of linguists based in Geneva at the turn of the 20th century. The most prominent figure was Ferdinand de Saussure, whose work on the linguistic sign was a vital precursor to the founding of both structuralism and semiotics. Saussure’s contribution to scholarship might never have been known were it not for the efforts of his former students, and fellow members of the Geneva School, Charles Bally, and Albert Sechehaye. It was they who transformed incomplete lecture notes into the posthumously published Cours de linguistique générale (1916), translated as Course in General Linguistics (1959), upon which Saussure’s lasting fame rests.

2. A small group of literary scholars using a combination of phenomenology (inspired by the work Edmund Husserl) and Russian Formalism to analyze the ontology of literature as a specific art form and affective experience. The text was treated as the realization of the author’s consciousness and the critics sought its deep structure by looking for and interpreting recurrent images and symbolic patterns. All material facts, such as the biography of the author, or the historical context, were set aside as extraneous. Its core membership consisted of Georges Poulet, Jean-Pierre Richard, Marcel Raymond, and Jean Starobinski. American literary critic J. Hillis Miller was influenced by their approach.

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